ONCE UPON A BANANA
By Jennifer Armstrong; illustrated by David Small
(Paula Wiseman/S&SBFYR; IBSN 0689842511; October 2006; fall catalog page 28)
"In this hilarious book, a monkey’s craving for a banana turns the streets of a busy city upside down. The mostly wordless tale is told through rhyming street signs and delightfully detailed watercolor paintings. On the first spread, a juggling performer, dressed in a motley jester’s costume, watches as his wild-eyed monkey runs away. The creature heads down the street and bounds into a bin filled with bananas. While the grocer rails at the monkey’s owner, the animal runs across the street clutching his prize. Next, it tosses the peel onto the sidewalk near a trash-can sign that reads, “Please Put Litter in Its Place” as a motorcycle sputters past with two tough-faced riders. After pulling over under another sign (“No Parking in This Space”), the pair dismount, and, of course, the driver slips on the peel. When this and future mishaps occur, suspense, thrills, chaos, and comedy result. Readers will soon understand that all of the background characters–small figures holding cell phones, Rollerblading, pushing baby carriages–will soon be drawn onto center stage. The book ends with an aerial map of the city block and a key identifying the locations of the signs, allowing kids to retrace the action. A glorious escapade packed with child appeal."
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